Air India could’ve handled these matters better, committed to take action: CEO Campbell Wilson

In the wake of the urination incident on board an Air India New York-Delhi flight last November, the flag carrier's CEO and Managing Director Campbell Wilson on Saturday said the airline "could have handled these matters better" and that ite is "committed to taking action".

New Delhi: In the wake of the urination incident on board an Air India New York-Delhi flight last November, the flag carrier’s CEO and Managing Director Campbell Wilson on Saturday said the airline “could have handled these matters better” and that ite is “committed to taking action”.

In a statement, the CEO said said: “Air India is deeply concerned about the in-flight instances where customers have suffered due to the condemnable acts of their co-passengers on our aircraft. We regret and are pained about these experiences.

“Air India acknowledges that it could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground and is committed to taking action.”

Air India has also initiated internal investigations into whether there were lapses by other staff on other aspects, including the service of alcohol on flight, incident handling, complaint registration and grievance handling.

Also on Saturday, the flag carrier issued show cause notices and de-rostered four cabin crew and one pilot pending investigation as response to the incident where the accused Shankar Mishra had urinated on an elderly woman co-passenger on November 26, 2022.

Mishra was arrested on Friday night from Bengaluru.

The airline said that upon receipt of the complaint on November 27, 2020, it commenced engaging in correspondence with the affected passenger’s family on November 30; commenced a refund of the ticket on December 2, with receipt of funds acknowledged by the victim’s family on December 16.

“Initiated the DGCA-prescribed ‘Internal Committee’, tasked with assessing incidents and which comprises a retired judge, a representative from a passengers’ association, and a representative from another Indian commercial airline, on December 10. The file was passed to the Committee on December 20 and a 30-day interim travel ban was imposed on the same date,” added the airline.

“Convened four meetings between senior airline staff, the victim and her family on December 20, 21, 26 and 30 to discuss actions being taken and the progress thereof. When the victim’s family requested that Air India lodge a police report during the meeting on December 26, it did so on December 28.”

Taking note of instances of unruly behaviour of air passengers where pilots and cabin crew members have failed to take appropriate actions, aviation regulator DGCA on Friday issued an advisory and asked head of operations of airlines to sensitise pilots, cabin crew and Director-in-flight Services on the topic through appropriate means.

On Thursday, DGCA said that the conduct of Air India was unprofessional and has led to a systemic failure in the urination case.

Observing that provisions related to handling of an unruly passenger onboard have not been complied with, the DGCA asked why enforcement action should not be taken against the concerned executives of Air India for dereliction of their regulatory obligations in the matter.

The regulator also issued show cause notices to senior Air India executives and pilots and cabin crew of the flight following receiving a report from the airline on the incident.

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